Moonee Valley is not the ideal track for Lankan Rupee, who lost his last two starts on the course after being unbeaten for six starts, but the gelding’s connections are confident he can bounce back and win the Group 1 Manikato Stakes (1200m) on Friday night regardless.
Trainer Mick Price knows there will be a lot of pressure surrounding Lankan Rupee in the $1 million race after firming to $3.80 favourite with Ladbrokes.com.au, but believes it will only work in the gelding’s favour.
Lankan Rupee experienced plenty of success last spring that continued into autumn racing this year. The gelding won six races in a row, three of which were Group One. After a very impressive win in the Group 1 T.J. Smith Stakes (1200m) back in April, the five-year-old was rested for five months.
He was beaten by a neck in his two returning runs at Moonee Valley in September and also missed out on a run at Caulfield due to a quarter-crack in his off-fore hoof.
Any doubts of Lankan Rupee’s fitness level were squashed however following a great workout last Saturday morning.
The gelding hasn’t raced for four weeks due to his quarter-crack, but Price says he remains in perfect shape. The hoof has not bothered him for over a week.
“The farrier has done a fabulous job on it,” Price told TVN.
“We’ve made adjustments to his shoes and he hasn’t been touched, quartercrack-wise, for seven to 10 days.
“His last solid gallop on the course proper on Saturday morning was fantastic with feet as they are.”
The five-year-old’s last defeat came in the Group 1 Moir Stakes (1200m) on September 26, in which he was beaten by Manikato rival Buffering. Price doesn’t believe this Saturday will be a repeat of the Moir, which was a slowly-run race, even if Lankan Rupee will start five gates further out than Buffering.
“Last time played more into Buffering’s hands,” Price said.
“He was allowed to run the first three (furlongs) very soft and we tagged him.
“I just think the difference at Moonee Valley is Buffering gains a half-length on the turn and we lose a half-length.
“Don’t be surprised to see Lankan Rupee fire out of the gates and lead him early.”
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